Sadoval County Commissioner Katherine Bruch, District 1, is facing a recall after papers were filed in civil court last week.
The petition for a recall hearing was filed by John Veltri, of Placitas, Nov. 22. In his petition, Veltri claims Bruch violated her oath of office on multiple occasions:
• Sept. 13, “Bruch walked out ofa meeting, refusing to affirm support for the New Mexico Constitution … right to referendum,” saying it was a refusal to represent the constituents who elected her;
• On Nov. 18, 22, the petition claims, Bruch voted to approve a canvass of election in which “the Bureau of Election reported the absentee ballot count was inaccurate and voted to approve the canvass with a known error.” It also states that on multiple occasions prior to the canvass vote, “the commission was informed the eletion system was not certified according to state statute but voted to approve and inaccurate canvass;
• The petitition also referenced the ordinance banning the feeding of wild horses in the county, stating that on March 22, it was voted down on a 3-2 vote with Bruch voting in favor of the ban. “On April 12, 2023, the same ordinance was placed back on the county agenda without prior public notice,” it states. “The ordinance was not attached/published as required for the public prior to being voted on again. She again voted in favor of the ordinance to codify animal crutly, which violates (state code).
“This is a representation of the violations perpetrated but not inclusive of all violations by Commissioner Bruch, leading to the recall petition,” Veltri’s petition concludes.
Bruch’s current term is set to expire in December 2026.
New Mexico law allows for “qualified electors” to petition for the recall of elected officials, requiring the petitioner to cite the grounds for the recall “based upon acts or failures to act ocurring during the current term of the officer.” They must also collect signatures numbering at least 25% of the votes collected during the election the official was selected. Those signatures then go to the secretary of state for verification, at which point, if verified, the recall petition will be certified to the governor and placed on a ballot for a special election to be held within 90 days.
“The first step is getting the court to authorize the effort. If the court finds adequate cause for the recall effort, then they can begin to circulate petitions,” a representative from the New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office said. “The district court is required to hold a hearing within 14 days from when the petitioner files.”
The hearing, Veltri said, should be held on or before Dec. 12, as that is when the 14-day window provided by state law closes.
Veltri said if the case does move forward, he would have 90 days to collect 5,008 signatures from District 1. “This is going to be a monumental task to do in 90 days over the holidays, during the winter, while people are traveling,” he said.
Bruch, however, does not think Veltri’s petition will stand, calling it a “political stunt.”
“When first elected to office, I vowed to always vote my conscience. I was elected and re-elected by overwhelming majorities of the voters in District 1,” she said. “This is nothing more than a partisan political stunt. I am confident that the court will dismiss this action for lack of cause.”
Veltri, who says he is an idependent, denied the claim of a partisan stunt. “This is nothing political … I don’t report to any party,” he said. “I don’t care if this would have been a Republican commissioner in my district or a Democratic commission in my district. It just happens that Katherine is in my district, and that’s the only commissioner I can address.
“This is an action I have taken on primarily as myself, a civilian, who has sat in the chamber twice a month for 22 months, and I’ve witnessed the violations that I’m citing,” he added.
The hearing has been assigned to Judge Christopher Perez, though no date is indicated in court records.